Mid-air collision between planes occur rarely. But when such crashes happen, the results are often fatal.
This was the sad reality when a Beechcraft BE-25 and a Piper PA-28 flew into each other over the town of Sumerduck, Virginia (VA), on Memorial Day 2012. Officials do not know why the two small, privately owned aircraft collided, but they have announced that the pilot and passenger in the Beechcraft lost their lives. The man flying the Piper survived and managed to walk away from his plane after losing a wing while going through a stand of trees and crash landing in a field near the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport. The survivor sustained head injuries and remained hospitalized two days later.
U.S. officials have asked the Transportation Safety Board of Canada to investigate the deadly plane crash because both pilots involved were employed by federal aviation agencies. The deceased man worked for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, while the injured man holds a position with the Federal Aviation Administration.
TSB investigations, like those conducted by the FAA and NTSB, can take a year or longer to produce conclusions. Factors that will be considered include the mechanical condition of each plane, the physical and mental health of each pilot, weather and wind conditions, and any filed flight plans. An eyewitness said it appeared the pilots were engaged in aerobatics before colliding, so investigators will likely look into whether the men knew each other and had been flying in tandem.
Depending on the findings of the crash investigation, family members of the people killed or the injured man could have grounds for filing civil lawsuits to recover damages. When they find themselves able to do so, all people directly affected by the collision should speak with Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorneys to discuss their legal rights.